How to take apart an old aquarium to salvage the glass? - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-24-2015, 04:50 PM Thread Starter
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How to take apart an old aquarium to salvage the glass?

Any good techniques to do this? I want to use the glass to either make a smaller aquarium or glass lids. I have a manual glass cutting tool.

75 Gallon Low Tech w/ Green Terror Pair
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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-24-2015, 06:08 PM
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What size tank are you dismantling?

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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-24-2015, 06:15 PM Thread Starter
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15g

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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-24-2015, 07:11 PM
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Badabing.

Different web site. I like to borrow from reef sites from time to time.

http://www.thereeftank.com/forums/f7...um-176772.html


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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-24-2015, 07:40 PM
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Interesting thread but I wonder why they seem to think you must completely disassemble to repair a leaker.

I noticed an old broken 20 recently in my storage building. I'd assumed it had been tossed. Bottom is broken but there are 4 side panels there that could be used. Hmmm.

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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-25-2015, 12:52 AM
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If you are taking the entire thing down to the glass with no acrylic or plastic pieces that you want to save then use lots of razor blades and acetone.
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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-25-2015, 07:56 AM
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It is possible to salvage glass this way, but it's a lot of work, and doesn't really seem worth it for most applications, especially, on a smaller tank, when a new tank can often be found at the $1 per gallon sales.

If your going to be building a new custom sized tank, you also night want to consider low iron glass. It's expensive but it doesn't have that slight blue green tint you get from regular glass.
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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-25-2015, 09:05 AM
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Just use a razor blade or exacto knife and cut away the silicone and pull the plastic trim pieces off then pull apart the glass panels.
I too want to recycle glass to make a nano tank or make glass lids to replace my plastic and/or makeshift hoods.

But the best thing to do is check your classifieds for free old windows. Nice sizes of glass and plenty of it. Always a bunch of people wanting to give them away for free.

Check out Joey (I am sure you have heard of him, no?), the King of DIY on youtube (he lives in Canada as well, Nova Scotia), he always has tons of inventive ways to make things yourself. He even has videos of recycling the glass from old house windows like I just mentioned
Here is his channel, do a quick search through his videos (can't remember the vid title) to find what you are looking for. He even has vids of disassembling and reassembling glass aquariums so if you still want to take apart the old tank, you can.
https://www.youtube.com/user/uarujoey/videos
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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-25-2015, 11:05 AM
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Joey is a wealth of knowledge, but do not think he is speaking the 'gospel' per say. Those are just his opinions and there are alternatives.

I just have to find me some 1/2" windows now...


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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-25-2015, 12:47 PM
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With the 5 tanks I've ripped apart so far from the $1/gallon sale, to use as lids also, I used a single edge razor blade in one of the holders and a snap blade. I first used the snap blade/utility knife to score the trim so I could get that off. Top is easy. Bottom a little tougher but persistence and patients is key. Then I used the razor in the holder to scrape the silicone out of the corners and the bottom/side panels. After that it is a matter of working the blade carefully deeper and deeper into the joint between panels.
After you get the panels apart start scrapping the silicone off. Very last use acetone to remove the last visages of the silicone layer.

It's not hard. It does require patience however and thought as to what you are doing lest you break the panel or worse cut off a finger. Don't ever get a finger you are not willing to part with in front of the blade. One slip....

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post #11 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-25-2015, 12:57 PM
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I just bought a bunch of Aqueon 10G's for a guppy settup at Petco. (shoulda seen me sneak 'em in past the wife!) and one was leaker (so much for the the Tetra issue). I decided to keep it and use it for glass tops.

I just ran a box cutter right down the top trim. If you were to look at the tank it just looked like the top layer of the trim had been cut cleanly away. The side trim that was left peeled right off. The bottom trim just pulled right off. De-rimming took maybe 10 minutes. The trim on smaller tanks is much thinner and that's why I asked.

If you look at the picture in that thread, there's a nice clamshell piece missing from one of the end panels. Box cutters are just too thick to get through the silicone bead between the panels on smaller tanks and so are guitar strings. None of the smaller tanks are perfectly assembled. There will be a point in the silicone bead that's ever so slightly wider. Find it and a straight razor is your best friend.

I had that 10G torn down and the majority of silicone removed in less than a half hour with nothing more than a box cutter and two straight razor blades.

Except for the smallest of tanks, I would steer clear of window glass. It's even thinner than what's used to build a 10G. But there's nothing wrong with using to practice cutting glass or working with silicone.

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It does require patience however and thought as to what you are doing lest you break the panel or worse cut off a finger. Don't ever get a finger you are not willing to part with in front of the blade. One slip....
To take these wise words of caution one step further, don't get caught up in the euphoria of having the rim off. The glass under the trim can be as deadly as fresh-cut glass so a little extra care is needed in moving the glass box around. It's one of the reasons the trim is there.

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post #12 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-25-2015, 04:27 PM
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I got inspired yesterday after reading that thread, and disassembled a 20L leaker with sentimental value. The bottom trim came right off, in fact, giving me a reason to pursue a rebuild rather than simply going over the inside seams with new sealant.

How to put this...

The bottom pane wasn't actually the bottom of the tank. Remove the trim, and the thing was resting on the sides/back. Normal maybe, but I doubt anyone has run into one where the bottom was 1" off the surface. Mmmmboy. Even better, they'd apparently used the bottom frame as a crutch and hadn't gotten sealant all the way down on one corner. No biggie you say? Seeing as how the bottom wasn't all the way at the bottom anyway? Well, the gap extended to just above the bottom. If they hadn't made such a mess of the interior seal by glopping it everywhere, the tank would never have held water.

Most of the seams were easy to get a utility knife in. Only one was tight.

What can I say? I was a dumb teenager and too fascinated by this odd tank size to look closer.

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post #13 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-26-2015, 12:31 PM
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There was one manufacturer that made them with floating bottom panes. I ran across one of them, but could never figure out which one. The "rough" part is that it floated an inch high. That's a bit extreme. I've never built one with a floater on the bottom, but I think 3/8" is recommended. Not sure on that.

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post #14 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-26-2015, 02:33 PM
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Based on the time period and the strip light (sold as part of a full hood, the hood broke a long time ago), I'd guess Perfecto as the light is. Could be wrong. Since it's a 20L, you think it could go rimless in the reconstruction? On second thought, that one pane was not straight across the top, and nothing appeared to have been smoothed much. Might be hazardous to be completely rimless, but surely I can do better than the original manufacturers.

It's really odd in light of a much older tank I recently worked on a bit - that one had the top edge rounded off smooth.

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post #15 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-26-2015, 04:55 PM
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All of the Tetra tanks I pulled apart have the bottom panel about 1/2" above the bottom of the vertical glass. But if you think about it that's where it would have to because the trim is shaped like that also.

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There was one manufacturer that made them with floating bottom panes. I ran across one of them, but could never figure out which one. The "rough" part is that it floated an inch high. That's a bit extreme. I've never built one with a floater on the bottom, but I think 3/8" is recommended. Not sure on that.
What do you mean by a "floating bottom pane"?

On all the tanks I have taken apart none have had the sides resting on the bottom nor were they even with the bottom.

Dilution is the solution for the pollution.
Quote me as saying I was misquoted.
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Here's to our wives and sweethearts - may they never meet.
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